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Eshelman, Lively keep battling to join rotation

Phillies righties get different results in split-squad action
Special to MLB.com

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Right handers Tom Eshelman and Ben Lively squared off for a spot in the Phillies' rotation on Saturday, albeit in different locations.

Eshelman pitched just 1 1/3 innings at home in Clearwater in a 4-2 loss to the Orioles, while Lively locked down the Pirates on the road in Bradenton, Fla., with three scoreless innings in a 4-3 defeat.

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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Right handers Tom Eshelman and Ben Lively squared off for a spot in the Phillies' rotation on Saturday, albeit in different locations.

Eshelman pitched just 1 1/3 innings at home in Clearwater in a 4-2 loss to the Orioles, while Lively locked down the Pirates on the road in Bradenton, Fla., with three scoreless innings in a 4-3 defeat.

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Early on, Eshelman looked sharp, sitting down Joey Rickard on strikes and fielded his position by catching a soft floater hit by Tim Beckham. But in the second, he unraveled, giving up a one-out walk to Cedric Mullins before Chance Sisco crushed a run-scoring double down the left-field line. Overall, Eshelman allowed one run, two hits, walked one and struck out two.

Lively, meanwhile, hardly broke a sweat against Pittsburgh. He gave up just one hit and struck out three and has not given up a run this spring. While he did hit Elias Diaz with a pitch in the third, Lively responded by forcing Josh Harrison to pop out and Corey Dickerson to fly out to right.

"The fastball command was good and I was getting ahead quick," Lively said. "Like we've been talking about, I was putting guys away when I got ahead and expanding, and everything felt pretty good."

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The pair are competing with Mark Leiter, Jake Thompson and Zach Eflin for the final rotation spot. The only one of the five not on the 40-man roster is Eshelman, which would appear to be an obstacle for the 23-year-old to overcome.

After posting a 4-7 record with a 4.26 ERA in 15 starts last year, Lively would appear to be the front-runner, boosted even further by his strong performances early on in camp.

Kingery sees time in center

MLB's No. 35 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, Scott Kingery has been a bright spot in camp, having hit three home runs in six games.

In an effort to see what else the club's No. 2 prospect could do, the Phils gave Kingery a new challenge of playing center field against the Pirates.

Video: PHI@TB: Kingery ties game with a two-run homer

The only defensive play Kingery ended up being involved in, however, was fielding a single by David Freese. At the plate, he went 0-for-3 in the leadoff spot, but is still hitting .333 in Grapefruit League action.

"It felt a little weird because I hadn't been there in so long, but I didn't feel bad out there," Kingery said. "I was shagging balls in BP and felt pretty good reading balls off the bat. It's kind of bad that I didn't get any balls out there because I didn't get a chance to do anything. But I felt pretty good out there. I think if I get another chance out there, it'll be good."

Ramos continues to impress

Edubray Ramos pitched a smooth third inning Saturday, striking out the O's Alex Presley and Pedro Alvarez while inducing Rickard to fly out to center.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said that Ramos has "earned the right" to be in contention for a roster spot.

"He's certainly a guy we think is a Major Leaguer," Kapler added. "And certainly a guy we see as a part of our Major League bullpen."

In his previous outing against the Tigers, Ramos gave up a run in 1 1/3 innings, but struck out three.

Up next

Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff will take the bump at home against Toronto on Sunday (1:05 p.m. ET, MLB.TV). Eickhoff struggled in his first spring start, which saw him give up three runs (two earned) with three strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings against Detroit. The Phillies will honor the 2008 World Series championship team with an on-field pregame ceremony.

Greg Zeck is a contributor to MLB.com.

Philadelphia Phillies, Tom Eshelman, Ben Lively